Things Moving Companies Won’t Move

Asha Kennedy
Researcher & Writer
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Published on October 19, 2021
3 min read

For most of us, the opportunity to hire a moving company for a long-distance move is a luxury—and a huge relief. But before you leave your daughter’s extensive collection of Essie nail polishes out for the movers to take care of on Move Day, keep in mind that your mover may not be able to load everything in your home on their trucks.

Read on to see a full list of items your movers probably won’t be able to transport for you. In order to be sure though, it’s best to check with your moving company ahead of time!


Your mover definitely can't move that

If it looks dangerous or smells flammable, it’s certainly not getting loaded into your moving truck. A professional mover will never be able to move hazardous materials on your behalf, simply because it is too huge a liability. Unfortunately, if you’ve got to take those items, you’ll have to transport them yourself. Hazardous or dangerous items include (but are not limited to):

  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Fertilizer and pesticides
  • Paints and paint thinners
  • Aerosols
  • Propane tanks and/or gasoline
  • Motor oil
  • Pool chemicals
  • Cleaning supplies and solvents
  • Charcoal
  • Batteries
  • Acids
  • Lighter fluid and matches
  • Fireworks and explosives

Your mover might be able to move that

There are many household items that your interstate mover may be able to ship depending on your preference and state regulations. But again—it is best to make sure and double-check with your moving company before the crew arrives.

Items movers might move include:

Live plants: Your mover may be able to transport live plants if it’s for a local move, but cross-state moves will be more difficult because agricultural laws vary state by state. Most movers will not move plants due to the likelihood of damages (plants sitting in hot trucks tend not to survive) and adherence to agricultural regulations.

Food: If you correctly pack unopened, canned (pantry) goods and alcohol, your mover can usually ship them. So yes—your untouched, 10-pound bag of corn meal can be shipped. But perishable and frozen goods, like milk and eggs, are not going in the truck with your mover. Not even in a heavy-duty cooler.

Family heirlooms: Most moving companies do not want to move your family heirlooms or personal collector items due to their likelihood of high financial or sentimental value. This includes photos, jewelry, stamp collections, cash, and/or important documents, like deeds, wills, and bonds. Your mover may move those items for you, but ultimately you (as the shipper) take the most risk and responsibility for them

Motorized equipment:Your moving company can generally ship things like lawn mowers and weed-wackers, as long as they are emptied of fuel (gasoline) beforehand.

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Insurance can provide extra protection for valuables

Depending on your situation, it may still be hard to transport high-value items yourself. If that’s the case, purchasing additional transportation insurance from a third-party vendor, like Travelers or Progressive, may be a good way to protect those goods during transit. It is also a good idea to list them as “high value” (and include their costs) on your inventory so that they can be protected under your moving company’s Full Value Protection plan if you so choose.


Preparing your things for the movers

Rest assured, your moving company is going to do everything it can to pack and load your belongings into the moving truck with care. But ultimately, they will not be touching dangerous or hazardous materials, let alone loading them into their trucks. Here are some tips to prepare your items for transport before the movers arrive.

  • Fragile, messy items (like shampoo or light bulbs) that are already opened are not always prohibited, but will probably make a mess during transport and should be avoided. Here are a few suggestions for packing liquids, if you need them.
  • Although much less physically threatening, movers may prohibit things like house plants and stamp collections depending on which company you chose and local regulations.

You should safely dispose of hazardous materials and chemicals if you don’t plan to transport them yourself. The easiest way to find out is usually by looking at the directions printed on the product label.


Bottom line

Knowing what to pack and what to leave behind can be tricky, but ultimately, you’ll want to ask your moving company which items are absolutely not allowed in advance so you don’t have to worry about dealing with unshippable goods on Move Day. If you can re-purchase some items, or you would be heartbroken to lose them, you might want to avoid having your mover handle them.

And remember—moving companies are not out to get you. They just have these rules in place to protect your belongings and themselves during the long transport to your new home.

Did we answer all your questions about prohibited moving items? Let us know in the comments below!


Additional resources

We’ve got the 411 on all things long-distance moving. Here are some of our resources to compare the best moving companies and services:

How to Hire a Mover

The 5 Best Moving Companies of 2021

14 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Movers

Asha Kennedy
Written by
Asha Kennedy
Asha Kennedy is a researcher and content writer who brings almost 5 years of experience working directly with multiple carriers as a Move Coordinator, including Mayflower, United, and Allied International. During her career, she has successfully partnered with diverse clientele to coordinate Military, International, Interstate and Corporate relocations—and uses this experience to create meaningful and educational content for future movers! Asha graduated from Hampton University with honors in English. Asha enjoys being in nature, reading books, and learning new things.